Monday, February 23, 2015

Grow Your Shop Series: 3 Ways To Make More Sales


Hey beauties! This is the last post for our Grow Your Shop Series and it's one I know we all talk about. (If you've missed the other posts, find them here, here and here.) Sure we love what we do and being creative but the bottom line is we need sales to grow. This money helps fund our passions so without sales...well, it's really really hard to make ends meet. I've broken down what I want to share in 3 categories so let's go!

SHARE THE PROCESS.

A huge myth in the handmade movement is that we have to be secretive about our craft so "others don't copy." I might get beheaded for this but don't worry so much about that! As a creative person, you received some sort of inspiration from someone else down the line...am I right? I'm not telling you to share the ingredients to your secret successful recipes but what I am saying is don't be afraid to share sneak peeks at your process, your work space and your new projects. I LOVE Instagram for this reason because that's what my customers like and what I like. It's awesome to follow brands I adore and feel like I'm getting an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how they work. It helps me feel more a part of what they are doing and I'll want to buy something not only because I love it but I want to continue supporting such an awesome shop.

SHARE THE AWARENESS.

Obviously you're aware of how awesome your shop is but you have to get out there and speak up. Getting more sales is so much more than listing items and praying someone finds it. Here are two things I've done that has helped bring in sales and long lasting customers:
- Collaborate with other shops or brands. Do a project together in exchange for free promotion on each others social media accounts. Customers are real people and as people crave community.
- Guest spot and blog ads. This is one of my favorites because it takes your shop and puts it in a storefront like in the mall. Find blogs you love with a great following and active readers. If they don't provide sidebar advertising or guest post options, email them politely asking if they would consider it. Writing a guest post on a blog shares what you do and who you are. Sidebar ads are like mini billboards on the internet. Any traffic is good traffic and ads are very good traffic.

SHARE THE GOODS.

It may sound weird when I say give something free away to get more sales...but it's true. Having a giveaway or a contest for one of your items whether through your social media, website or someone else's is a great idea. You want people to know about you but most importantly to remember you. Many times it's required that people follow your shop or social media accounts to enter. This boosts your follower numbers which will in turn increase the number of people who see your posts. More than that, you're reaching out to people and being generous. When a shop owner is seen as generous, people start caring more about them. Sure some might just follow to enter because they want free stuff then unfollow after the contest is over. Don't worry about that. The entire point is getting your brand out there and sharing your awesome talent with everyone. Blessing a lucky winner with free stuff will get your shop noticed for sure.

Keep in mind that not every follower will be a customer. That's fine! The key is to branch out so far that more people will see your brand and increase the likelihood of future sales. Oh and a bonus: list often!! I always notice a boost in my shop views and sales when I list a few times a week. If you have enough inventory to list items one to three times a day, do it! List an item in the morning, then afternoon, then night. I list a couple times a week and believe it is essential to showing people that your shop is alive and constantly spitting out items like a boss.

So be active, share who you are and what you do, remember your audience and list like crazy. May the force be with you, grasshopper. (er yeah, just good luck!)

Have any questions about sales, this post or the entire series? Let me know below, I'd love to help!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Grow Your Shop Series: Find The Financial Flow

Happy Friday! Here we are again in our second to last part of the Grow Your Shop Series. I'm glad you're here today because I'm talking about money...yay!! First a disclaimer...I'm not the best with it. Just being honest. It's only by the grace of God that I get to keep doing what I love. So for the record, this post isn't a cookie-cutter finance plan to keep your business floating. I believe there are plenty of articles from more professional and more qualified people out there than myself. We'll be talking about the flow of income and how it can help launch your business.

Utilize All Your Gifts

Apart from being an artist I'm also a writer. Having a successful online shop was always my #1 goal but I knew that I needed a financial flow to help build that. A few years back, I started working with Demand Media Studios creating content for various popular websites such as Apartment Therapy and eHow. For every article that was accepted, I was paid $25. That would change depending on topics and sections. That money would then be used to market my online shop, purchase new materials and be saved towards new products. It worked so well, I even got to pay myself once in a while!

Think about your skills...all of them. Do you write good blog posts? Take amazing photos? Are a social media whiz? You can freelance your services to help others and in turn create financial flow back to your online shop. Work with websites who will pay you for content. Sign up to be a stock photo photographer and reap the rewards of royalties every time someone downloads your photos. Ask big blogs if they could use a hand with their social accounts or emails and become their virtual assistant. Branch out rivers of possibilities to lead back towards your financial pool.

Provide Different Price Points

Another way to start a financial flow is by making sure you have a variety of different price points within your shop. For example, I design and sell graphic tees. These are very popular and bring in great financial flow. Knowing my customer base, they are very creative and many are entrepreneurs themselves. So with that in mind, I started providing painted quotes as prints for a lower price. This gives the buyer other options which in turn helps the financial flow. A customer could like a tee but also an uplifting art print and illustrated coffee mug.

Many customers would be more likely to buy from a shop if they see variety in pricing. Think about it. It's pretty psychological. How many times have we been in Target and have gone "Oh that top is great, $20!" then turn around just to go "What? Fuzzy slippers are only $8? Yup that's happening." Both end up in your cart in a heartbeat. Of course, it's Target...they know what they are doing. You can use that same mentality for your shop to create a financial flow. Here's a great article from the Etsy Blog about pricing and the worksheet they provide to help price out your products. It's a tricky game; just try one different things and track the results.

Share Your Brand

A very big myth that I see with many shop owners especially new ones is that you have to have one platform for your shop. For many, it's either between Etsy or Storenvy. I actually have written my own thoughts about the pros and cons of each in this post. If you've read it, you'll know where I'm going with this. Hello Awesome, my shop, can be found both in Etsy AND Storenvy. Now I understand most people don't want the hassel of handling two different shops. That is understandable. But my take is go where the customers go. If you are not having many sales and are struggling to bring traffic to one shop, you should consider opening another one on a different platform to try and bring in customers. I personally have more luck with Storenvy right now but it took a while. Years back I ran a graphic design shop on Etsy that was hopping. You should share your brand across different platforms to provide more opportunities for people to buy your stuff. It's really that simple. You don't have to provide all your products on both unless you want to. Think about the platform and the kind of people it attracts. What do they like? What do they don't like? What are the trends and fads? Don't compromise your work but use what you have to draw them in.

To find the financial flow is to go beyond the normal "list-sell-buy" attitude; where you list, sell for a price, they buy. Businesses rarely just run like that. Let's use Target again: do they really need Starbucks to get customers? No but it helps! Adding a Starbucks is something that pleases the customers and adds a different financial flow. It's possible that Starbucks has to pay Target a percentage to have a kiosk in their stores.

As you can see, there are many ways you can financially help your shop grow. Be creative and think of something yourself! Being flexible is essential to running a business. You've been given infinite resources to do the incredible. Try to get past the cookie-cutter mindsets to find the financial flow for your shop.

Like this post? Check out the other parts to the series:
Social Media Etiquette
Customer Satisfaction Tips

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

5 Tips for Healthier Hair


Hello friends - it's Lizzie here. I am so happy to be here with you all once again, and today we are going to be talking about hair care. We all dream of long and beautiful locks like Rapunzel, but how can we obtain such healthy looking hair? We will most certainly not be throwing our hair out a window in an attempt to get rescued, but don't we all want to know how to care for our beautiful locks. So today I am going to be sharing five tips for healthier hair. Let's get started.

Tip #1: Drink Water
Yep! You read correctly. Water not only hydrates you, but it hydrates your hair. It feeds the hair follicle, which can help your hair grow as well. Water has many good benefits. It helps your skin, it keeps you hydrated and it strengthens your hair. Try to drink at least 8 cups of water daily, and you will notice a complete difference in hair growth and in your body in general.

Tip #2: Less Heat
Makes sense right? The less heat you use the softer and healthier your hair will be. You can make a goal for yourself, and only allow heat styling tools near your locks once a week. Refrain from blow drying your hair all the time. Allow your hair to air dry, and limit the amount of heat you use. This can eliminate future split ends and can make your hair smooth too.

Tip #3: Wash Your Hair Less: 
Sounds strange I know, but if you wash your hair every day, you remove the natural oils from your scalp, and this can make your hair dry. If possible wash your hair 3 times a week. If this is not enough then wash your hair every other day. My hair is straight and thin, so when I don't wash it every other day it gets oily fast. Embarrassing I know. You know your hair better than anyone else. If you feel like you can wash your hair only three times a week, then go for it.

Tip #4: Be Gentle with Your Hair Ties
If you are anything like me, then putting your hair in a top knot or pony is always a go to hairstyle. It is simple and easy, and it looks good. Did you know that having a ponytail in the same place for many days can damage your hair. That's right! If you love pony's and top knots as much as me then try changing it up once in a while. Try a high pony one day, a low pony the next, a high top knot, and maybe a side updo the next. Refrain from tightening the pony also to limit breakage.

Tip #5: Massage Away
Have you ever had your head massaged? or have you ever had someone play with your hair? It is very relaxing. Take some time to massage your scalp. It not only feels good, but it helps your hair as well. This can be especially great if you have had your hair in a pony all day. Massaging your scalp will relax you, and it may be even help with hair growth.

There you go ladies. Love your hair, and remember that in order to make it healthy and beautiful, you have to take care of it. I hope you enjoyed these tips, now go ahead and try them out. What tips do you recommend for healthier hair?

Lizzie blogs over at thekindhearted.com & she can be found on Twitter & Instagram.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grow Your Shop Series: Customer Satisfaction Tips


Hey guys! Here we are for the second topic of our Grow Your Shop Series. As a shop owner, customer satisfaction has to be top priority. Actually if you are in the customer service business anywhere, it has to be top priority. I've had my share of real job experiences on the front line whether it was a fast food cashier or bank teller. It can be difficult to separate our own personal emotions and professional obligations. Let's talk about how we can make sure our customers are satisfied without losing what we stand for or the quality of our business.

Be A Servant.

First thing is first, it is part of our job to make sure we are being servants. That's right. I didn't say "slaves" and let me explain. There are two types of people who work with customers: servants and slaves. The slave does everything the customer asks even if it means jeopardizing quality and integrity. They are a people-pleasers and will sell customers a service for pennies to make them happy. This eventually causes lack of passion for their brand and in turn makes it all about the mula. Slaves are more prone to lashing out verbally to customers whether or not the customer was in the wrong.

We don't want to be slaves. You cannot build a business with that mindset. The servant has the customer's best interests at heart, they are passionate and compassionate but also for what is best for the business. Servants accommodate requests according to the high standards they have for their work. How does this make the customer satisfied? Most people prefer buying or working with someone who has purpose yet is willing to be flexible enough to bring forth a product they want. In the end, they will feel good about spending their hard earned money on something you created.

Being a slave will leave you burnt out because not everyone can be pleased (shocker I know!) Being a servant, however, not only takes care of what the customer wants but your business still maintains it's value.

Reputation Has Worth.

We've seen it many times. A very upset seller takes to the internet and publicly blasts a customer. Many of us have done this especially in the early stages when we are learning and have so many high expectations. There have been a few times that I've even seen shop owners respond to negative feedback in their shop with a rebuttal as if they are on trial and are stating their side of the story. 

Let's think about this. How would we feel about McDonald's if they published a statement claiming one of their customers deserved the service they got because they were wrong. Regardless if the customer was in the wrong, it is never professional or right to argue especially publicly.

Your reputation as a shop owner has worth. I personally would not feel comfortable purchasing from someone knowing they are comfortable with humiliating customers just to be right. This creates a web of distrust. Customers will not be satisfied...CANNOT be satisfied...if they can't trust you. We have to be shields. When someone throws bullets, we need to be strong enough so they don't penetrate but are close enough for us to learn a lesson. And we shouldn't manipulate the situation so that the bullets fire back at our customers. How we handle relationships shapes our shop reputation.

Love On Them.

Leave love notes in their packages. Include sweet gifts in every envelope. Thank them non stop, email them to make sure they've received their order, throw them a discount code for next time. Just be nice and love on them! It's not rocket science. It's appreciation. It always feels good to know someone appreciates you. Our customers need to know we do. We can't just assume they will be satisfied because they bought something they wanted from us. They aren't buying a product...they are buying a piece of you. They are buying a part of your brand.

Take some time to make sure things are wrapped clean and include extra goodies. I learned this early especially since people are buying handmade. It's personal. Customers are real people with real feelings, not just numbers on a stats sheet. Do what you can to make sure those feelings are warm and fuzzy. Showing love doesn't cost anything but the rewards are so much sweeter. 

Read the first part of the series about Social Media Etiquette right here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

5 Ways To Decorate On A Budget



Hey Guyssss!  I'm Michelle and you can catch me blogging over at Let It Shine.  I blog mostly about my life, sometimes about my projects, crafts, recipes and sewing.  Mostly sewing.  I love it like serious.  Other things I love like serious?  My kids, my husband, being a Christian, and beautiful things.  Oh, and my favorite color is gold.  So now that we are properly introduced, let's talk about decorating!

If you've visited my blog, you have probably heard me mention a few times about us moving into a new rental.  We LOVE it here.  It's a ranch style house which is kind of a treasure in this area of Virginia.  The kids have bigger  bedrooms, we have a bigger kitchen, and we also have a little foyer and a HUGE living room area...at least huge compared to what we used to have.  And the summation of all this is, I finally have room to decorate in this home!  At our last house I always felt stifled by the tiny amount of space and to be honest, decorating just seemed like a waste when there was really nothing to decorate.

We are so blessed to have this new home for however long we'll have it.  I'd love to paint and I can't even imagine how crazy I'll go when we finally purchase a home, but for now I am so thankful to have a space to decorate.  But, as with everything else in my life, I'm definitely having to do that on a budget.  So here are my best five tips for decorating on a budget.  I really believe that even those with the smallest wallets can find some good tips here so keep reading!

1. Plants/Flowers.
Little plants and flowers are so pretty and can be very colorful!  I have bought several small (fake) plants and flowers.  What I have I purchased at Ikea, Hobby Lobby and Michaels.  You can find small, very inexpensive vases (I typically spend $3-5) at some of the same stores.  It's even easy and cheap to switch out the flowers every few months so they match up with the seasons.


Plater/Plate: Ikea

Milk Jar: Hobby Lobby//Flowers: Michaels

Vase: Ikea//Flowers: Michaels

2. Use Facebook to Decorate!
For those of you who want to have a more cultured look, try some art!  I found this amazing piece on Facebook for $15 and I think I was the complete envy of my Van Gogh loving friend.  Similar pieces sell at art stores for $200 + but since I found this on a Facebook yard sale site I paid literally a fraction of that price.  If you haven't already, search "Your city + Yard Sale" on FB and see what pops up.  I would pick the group/fan page with the most members for the results with the most variety.  Or ask to join several groups.  Most will let you post "ISO" (In Search Of) and just try asking to see what people have that they are willing to sell.  You could also try Craigslist.  As always, please be super careful when meeting with strangers.  Always meet in public!  If you don't like the idea of using the internet, try your local thrift stores or even go to garage sales.



3. DIY
If you are wanting to show your creative side, there are some awesome projects you can do yourself that will be quite the statement piece.  I got the idea to make this fabric map from Pinterest and there is another project from Pinterest I'm wanting to do too.  It's no secret that I sew, and though these projects require fabric, they actually don't require a sewing machine or any sewing at all.  You can use iron on transfer paper to make these beautiful projects.  All you need is the paper (at your local craft store, or even Walmart sells this) and an iron.  And fabric, of course!  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Similar Map Tutorial here.  Rainbow Row wall hanging: vintage.

4. Printables. 
Printable art has become quite popular over the last few years.  There are so many free options on Pinterest.  I have searched many times for specific things and have been able to find most of them for free.  Etsy has a lot of great options for printables too and the customizable options are basically limitless.  Sites like (my ever favorite) Groopdealz and Brickyard Buffalo often offer cute printables at steeply discounted prices.  And if none of that fancies you, try using a site like PicMonkey to make your own!  I have made several printables on display in my home right now.




5. Garland.  
Garland is a great idea for easy, inexpensive decor.  They can be hung over doorways, on mantles, on entertainment centers, on a kitchen bar, even on a bare stretch of wall.  You can make them with tissue paper, tassels, fabric scraps, burlap, pom poms and that's not even all of your options!  You can buy garlands for fairly cheap at stores like Target or Hobby Lobby or you can make your own with supplies you can buy at a local fabric or craft store.  Search Pinterest for tutorials on the specific kind you're interested in to get you started.

Heart Garland: Target (only $3!)

Red Rag Garland: Gift

And just so you know, guys, the lighting in my living room was fairly terrible when I took these photos.  My heart was sad, but hey, you win some you lose some.  Overall, I feel like the decor is a win.  Happy Decorating!

Michelle is a sewing mama of two in love with photography, fabric, anything sparkly and chevron, DIY projects and silliness. She can be found blogging here and on Instagram here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Grow Your Shop Series: Social Media Etiquette



Hey there! We are kicking off a new blog series called Grow Your Shop, dedicated to all you hard working entrepreneurs out there. While many of you blog, many of you also run online shops (or maybe you would like to). I'm still learning every day when it comes to growing a successful online store but have learned a lot in the last 5 years by getting my hands dirty. From name changes to product launches to social media oops, mistakes happen. The key is to keep taking those mistakes and using them as bricks towards building your goals. Today is all about social media etiquette and how this effects the growth of our brand overall.

What is Social Media Etiquette?
Oh glad you asked! In order to define what it is, let's break down the phrases first:

Social Media = websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. For example, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest...you get it. (I know this seems basic but bare with me!)

Etiquette = the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.

Social Media Etiquette is the customary code of polite behavior within the context of social networking. Short version: how you should act online. Seems simple right?

The funny thing is, though it may seem trivial, I've come across many different people who are so focused on growing their shop and are not educated in the proper behavior to promote their shop through social media. I've also made some not so great moves when it came to social media etiquette. Here's a few things I've learned.

"FOLLOW ME!"
Time and time again this is what I used to leave as comments with a link to my shop. Not only is this improper etiquette but it really is ineffective. The reader can sense the newbie desperation jumping off the screen. It is not polite to ask for a favor when you haven't taken the time to get to know the person first. And even if you are a huge fan on Instagram and double tap all their photos, it's basically telling them what to do. Come on, we don't like to be told what to do!

Honestly when I see this, it takes every ounce of me not to call the person out on it. You want to gain followers? That's fine! Leave comments about how you really feel about a person's work, how they inspire you, love their style and flair. After you can simply leave a link under your name. That's it. A genuine comment about that other person or their work and then add your shop under your signature. It's professional and puts you in a different category.

LINK VOMIT
It seriously is as gross as it sounds. There have been times I loved a person's shop, visited their Twitter page and was doused with a bunch of links to their products. Nothing else. Social media is about social networking. To mingle, chat, exchange information with other talented folks. It's not just a platform for your self promotion. A good balance helps followers digest things easier. When we keep shoving links, links, links...it will soon get old and mundane. You have to show people you care about what they care about before they care about what you care about. Did you get that? Phew!

A great rule of thumb (mainly on Twitter and Facebook) is to share four other posts or links from other people then one of yours. It might sounds backwards like we are giving them more exposure but being nice always pays off. Make sure you share things you really like. Be genuine. Don't worry about them getting exposure. The reality is that the link to your shop is attached to your social media accounts. Whatever you share will be seen even if it is someone else's and most people will want to check out your profile for more inspiration.

GET ENGAGED
Let's say social media was a big company party. There's Lulu against the wall speaking to no one. Marty is too busy talking about himself that everyone is annoyed. Henry is just plain rude and knows everything about everything. Then there's Justine. She's friendly, shakes people's hands, introduces herself. She asks people about what they do, makes them feel special and keeps the conversation lighthearted. If these four different people were shops on social media, which one would you buy from?

We will automatically gravitate towards the person that is showing interest in who we are. It's selfish human nature. We really can't help it. If your shop were one of the people above, which one would it be? When we break the mindset that our shop is "ours" and concentrate on a target audience, this is when things will blossom. Ask your followers questions. Get feedback on new products. Talk about what they love and share your heart.

Social media etiquette goes so much deeper than just sending your link out to potential customers.  It's a chance to share your story, your knowledge, your journey. To connect with others who love what you love. Don't worry about gaining followers. If you can make the followers you have into friends, more will come. And anything grows when you have good friends.

Monday, February 9, 2015

14 Modest Valentine Outfit Ideas

Welcome to the week of love! As we gear up for the most romantic weekend of the year, we would like to share some super cute modest outfit ideas you can easily incorporate into date night. Flashes of pink, dashes of red and sprinkles of white, these are sure to make a classy impression for any Valentine event! 

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